Friday, November 16, 2007

Guest Posting By Urban Abba: The Eye of The Hurricane

(Picture courtesy of

Homelife is often both the battlefield and the classroom for middos. Reb Elyah Lopian z"tl has been quoted as saying that the true test of one's bain adam l'chavero is how one act in one's home. For me, this is true the moment I come home from work. It's seems that as I open the door there's "something that needs to be done". Work-life ends and family-life begins.

Most of us probably daven for true Shalom within our homes and with those that live with us. This can be hard when, even before you open your front or back door, it sounds like trouble. I try to stay cool and calm when I come home (sometimes I am successful and othertimes I'm not). My knowledge that my attitude had a big effect on those around me. It's pretty easy for me to lose my cool and I am constantly working on my patience and thinking before I speak.

A good eitzah I got once was that when I kiss the mezuzzah before entering my home I should think about something good that each person in my family has done from me and what a bracha each person really is. This really does help my approach to those in my family.

My wife works very hard as an educator during the day and I know that she looks forward to me coming home to give her a break from our three kids (a one year old, a kindergartner, and a second grader). Both the older kids have homework (well for the one in kindergarten it's mostly review of what was learned during the day) and it takes time. Also our kids are away at school from 8 AM until 4:40 PM, they come home exhaused. When I come home I'm confronted with things like:

- Our second grader not cleaning up or making his bed like he was asked to in the morning

- Our kindergartner jumping from her bed to the rails of baby sibling's crib claiming that she is "Spider-Girl"

- Our second grader not wanting to actually sit and do homework

- Our kindergartener wanting to either tell me everything that happened at school or not giving out any information at all (much like a CIA agent)

It's important to remember that that kids are kids. They don't aways want to do homework right away or study for a spelling test. They don't aways want to eat what's on the menu for dinner. They (if they are my daughter) have very strong views on what they want to wear to school (she does get a uniform in first grade, Baruch Hashem), what they should do with their free time, and seem to know everything.

Rabbi Zelig Pliskin writes that it's important to remember that our children are the children of the King of Kings. We were given a great privilege and responsibility to raise them. The children of the King are royalty and will be the future leaders of Klal Yisrael. All of these lofty thoughts really don't help when, say, my kindergarten aged daughter of the King says something like, "I'm not 5. I'm like, 14 or 11 years old, Abba, because I have responsibilities at home like setting the table, not waking up my sister, going to school" or the second grade son of the King uses lines like, "my friends stay up later than I do and they have Nintendo Wii. Can I stay up late as, say, compensation for not having a video games system"?

What can you do but smile and go with the flow at times? I try my best to be the calm eye of the hurricane and hope that I can set a postive example for those around me. My wife often tells me that she appreciates me remaining calm when things get hectic with homework, dinner, keeping the younger ones entertained, etc. When she says that, it's all worth it.


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